HOW time flies indeed!
April 28, 2020 marks 27 years since the tragic Gabon air disaster in which Zambia lost 30 people in a plane crash off the shores of Libreville.
The de Havilland Canada DHC-5D Buffalo plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, about 500 metres offshore from Libreville, Gabon, killing 18 Zambia national team players, two coaches, a five-man Zambia Air Force crew, a journalist and several FAZ officials.
The plane had made a refuelling stop in Libreville en-route to Dakar where the team was due to play Senegal in a FIFA 1994 World Cup qualifier.
Among the players were some of the finest generation of footballers Zambia had ever produced.
April has always been a sad month for the families of the departed heroes and the country at large.
What continues to hurt the most though is that 27 years since the tragedy, no report has been given by the government on what really transpired on that fateful evening.
Former FAZ executive committee member Luxon Kazabu, who was National Sports Council of Zambia general secretary at the time, wonders why the government has not released the report.
Kazabu said it is a sad situation that the Zambian government has remained silent regarding the events of April 1993.
“It’s very sad and one cannot understand what the problem is in releasing the report of what actually happened. You can’t just keep quiet. People will keep on talking about the report. It is even worse when you are part of the family of the departed heroes. Time and again you are promised [that] the report will be given and it’s nowhere to be seen and I don’t think it’s the way we should honour the departed heroes. It reminds me of the sacrifice the departed heroes made,” he said.
Kazabu said this month in particular should be used as an opportunity to reconcile the wrangles that have engulfed Football House in honour of the departed heroes.
“… to all those that are bringing confusion to Football House, if they can take back and say ‘wait a minute, if this month is when we lost our heroes’, perhaps people can sober up. But now people are still fighting in the courts of law,” he said. “But I think 27 years ago we lost what was promising team. We should all remember and do the right thing for the sake of game of football in the country and in honour of the departed heroes.”
Kazabu said the recent wrangles in Zambian football need to be resolved.
“How can this issue of wanting to be in the FAZ committee become life and death? It means that we have citizens who don’t care about national interest,” said Kazabu. “Some of us [our] history is there to show that we contributed in the development of football. It’s all about national interest. Then our own interests come later.”